President Joe Biden’s Dogs Major and Champ Temporarily Return to Delaware After ‘Biting Incident’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says Major and Champ are ‘beloved’ and part of the Biden and White House families.
March 17 update:
Major Biden is receiving training after he bit a member of the White House security team and will return to the White House at some point, President Joe Biden said Wednesday in an interview with ABC News.
German shepherd Major and his brother, Champ, were relocated to the Biden home in Delaware after the incident, but Biden said it wasn't because of the bite, which the president said didn't even break the agent's skin. It was because he and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden would both be away from the White House.
"He was going home," Biden said. "I didn't banish him to home. Jill was going to be away for four days. I was going to be away for two, so we took him home."
He also told ABC News that 85 percent of the people at the White House love Major. That has us asking: What's the deal with the other 15, huh?
Social media is all abuzz about news from the White House that Major Biden—a rescue dog and one of two German shepherds President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have—was involved in a "biting incident with a member of White House security," CNN reports.
As a result, both Major and his older brother, Champ, were temporarily relocated last week to the Biden's family residence in Wilmington, Del., to stay with other caregivers. When the first lady is traveling (she's currently touring military bases in California and Washington state), it's not uncommon for the presidential pups to leave the hustle of the White House for more relaxing environs.
There's speculation about the dog bite incident but few actual details released to the press. Major, almost 3, and Champ, nearly 14, moved to the White House shortly after President Biden's inauguration in January. In an interview with Kelly Clarkson in late February, the first lady talked about how the dogs, just like the people, went through a lot of changes to adjust to their new home. "They have to take the elevator, they're not used to that, and they have to go out on the South Lawn with lots of people watching them," Biden told Clarkson. "So that's what I've been obsessed with, getting everybody settled and calm."
Tuesday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke of the incident with co-host Mika Brzezinski: "What I can tell you, as a dog lover, and I know you are, is that Major and Champ are part of the Biden's family … they're beloved members of the Biden family and of the White House family, too."
In her normal White House press briefing later on Tuesday, Psaki confirmed the incident, stating, "on Monday, the first family's younger dog, Major, was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual, which was handled by the White House Medical Unit with no further treatment needed." She also clarified that it had previously arranged for Major and Champ to return to Delaware before the incident because of the first lady's impending travel.
CNN reported that Major "displayed agitated behavior on multiple occasions, including jumping, barking, and charging at staff and security, according to the people CNN spoke with about the dog's demeanor at the White House."
Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, RBT, is the founder and executive director of the Iowa Human-Animal Bond Society and Daily Paws' health and behavior expert. She says when dogs are thrust into new environments, surrounded by stressors they've never encountered, their behaviors are likely to change, just as our own behavior would.
"It's important that we do our best to understand the context in which our dogs find themselves before we just label any behavior," Bergeland says. "Normal dog behaviors that occur when a dog feels very stressed, nervous, or fearful can look scary when you don't understand the context in which they happen. These behaviors don't say anything about the dog."
If you're concerned about a sudden change in your dog's behaviors, especially if there's been a shift in their environment or your family's dynamic, Bergeland says you can ensure your pup's best health and happiness by working with a positive reinforcement-based trainer or certified animal behavior consultant.